Essential Checklist for International SEO
Taking your business and expanding it to the global market can be daunting. Different languages and target audiences mean you can’t simply repeat the strategy that worked for you in your national market.
As an International SEO Agency, we know exactly what your brand needs to do to achieve global success. So we have created this simple 5 step checklist to ensure you’re well on your way to conquering international markets.
1. Finding Your Current International Audience
The first step in tackling a global SEO strategy is researching which markets your potential clients are likely to be in. It’s easier to rank better in countries where your business already has some traction. You can research current and potential interest by looking at your site traffic by country in Google Analytics. Countries that already send you lots of clicks, receive a large number of impressions and have higher average positions are good starting points for international targeting. Also, check how your website is currently visible from other countries in terms of organic search.
Besides checking which regions your website is already reaching, you need to look at the organic traffic a business like yours generates in other countries. Figuring out if creating a new website presence for your business in another country is actually worth it lies in comparing the potential traffic and conversions from the additional languages and countries to the investment it would take.
2. Targeting Language vs Country
When it comes to creating your international site, this stage is crucial. The goal here is to figure out what makes more sense: create a site in an alternate language, or target them geographically.
Country targeting means you target your content with no worries about language variations. You can have offers, discounts or sales directed to the Canadian market for example, but won’t need to worry about the linguistic variations of it versus your Australian website. But it’s not all benefits: you are limiting your audience to one country and will need to do some in-depth research of the local buying trends.
Language targeting has its own set of advantages, namely, you won’t have as many restrictions to your audience reach. American, Canadian or British: as long as your audience speaks English your website will be accessible. It also makes it easier to create and translate content, without needing to narrow it down to one specific culture. The downside? Your content can seem generic, and you risk some idiomatic expressions making no sense to some users.
3. Keyword Research
To evaluate International traffic potential, you need to conduct keyword research in the languages you have in mind since your new target audience isn’t going to be searching for your current list of keywords. This isn’t always easy since different countries have different local expressions, and words can have different contextual meanings when translated into different languages. To not miss any opportunities, assistance from marketing experts who are experienced in international SEO and native speakers is key.
There are still things you can do on your own in terms of researching keywords specific to the new language or country you’re targeting. Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends and a SERP Checker are some of the tools you can use to see search volume and competitiveness for the right market.
The Google algorithm doesn’t change from country to country, but the Search Engine Results Page does. To target a specific keyword, start by taking a look at specific SERPs in your region of choice, and analyse both the keyword volume and the search intent behind those terms. These factors combined will help mould your content and marketing strategy to reach individual audiences.
4. Localising Page Elements
In addition to understanding the keywords you want to target in a new market, you need to review the technical aspects you can access. After completing your research, place keywords onto the most important places of your website pages: the URLs, title tags and meta descriptions, image titles and alt texts, and of course, the content itself.
But it’s not over yet, you then need to translate the content of your pages. Even though it may make life easier and translation quicker, you should avoid machine translation at all costs. When translating from one language and dialect to another, there are language nuances that a machine won’t find. Whenever possible, use local translators who also understand the importance of context.
If you want to make the most of your international audience, you need to consider the culture and ethics of the countries that you are targeting. Be mindful when executing your content strategies: from laws and regulations to branding your content so it is suitable for your target audience, it all comes into play. Localisation can also influence your website design as word lengths may vary for specific languages; meaning your layout may need to be fixed. Other design changes could be images, slogans, and catchphrases.
Furthermore, check to make sure you’ve correctly implemented all your hreflang tags for every language version of your site, to avoid duplicate content issues. Don’t forget to display dates, currencies and times correctly in the local format.
5. Link Building
Links have different values depending on the origin of the backlink. For example, URLs ending in “.fr” signal to Google that your site is relevant to audiences in France and it will rank accordingly on those local SERPs. Lots of local links have a massive impact on search results.
To start taking advantage of regional traffic, building links is crucial. But a “guns blazing” approach is not ideal. Avoid the temptation of having dozens of irrelevant links pointing to your site from low domain authorities, or even buying them, simply because you are new to a region. Focusing on quality over quantity is what will help you not only build a reputable website with good authority in Google’s eyes but a mutually beneficial relationship with fellow companies who are present in the same market as you.
Though the outreach principles are the same when it comes to identifying influencers in your niche, be cautious of how you approach link building. An international SEO Agency that has access to native speakers will have a much more successful outreach approach. The reason is simple: communicating naturally, in a way that isn’t forced or robotic, comes off as much more trustworthy and authoritative, and will ultimately benefit you much more.
Maintaining SEO strategy
One of the most important elements to ensure your SEO global plan is successful is monitoring your efforts. Having targets is no use if you do not have the tools in place to measure the results of your strategies. Beyond this, you will need to continuously monitor your keywords, optimise your site and keep your eye on international and local search trends and on what competitors are doing so you can stand out within your industry.
Need more help figuring out an international marketing strategy? Get in touch with our team and we will help you and your business see the results you need overseas.